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Tool Mod #5: CHEAP spokeshave tune-up

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Blog entry by swirt posted 02-03-2011 06:46 AM 6496 reads 3 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Making new chisel handles Part 5 of Tool Mod series no next part

Source: Tuning up a cheap spokeshave (in case you know already that you want the longer more detailed version)
As many of you know, I prefer OLD tools. I rarely buy new and I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for.” None of that has changed. ;)

I have kept my eyes open for a round bottom spokeshave for over a year. Preferably a Stanley 151R, that’s the one with the gull-wing handles and the two adjuster nuts. I run across the flat soled versions quite regularly (the 151M) but I rarely see the round bottom version. Lots of times the ones on eBay are impossible to tell which is which because of bad photos and bad descriptions. For the most part I am in no big rush, so I will wait it out…. but there are a couple things I want to build where having one would be helpful. My intention is to still find an OLD Stanley, but in the mean time, I picked up a $5 imitation at HF under the “Central Forge” brand name (the one and only time I have been in HF… yes I still feel dirty from the experience).

For $5 I got a round bottom spokeshave that is a knock-off of the Stanley 151R. That $5 got me a spokeshave that was absolutely un-useable in its current condition, and I am not saying that just because the blade was dull. It had more serious problems than that.

What was wrong with it?
1) Poorly placed adjustment slots made the adjuster nuts un-moveable

2) Non-flat bed for seating the blade

3) Blunt cap iron allowed no wood to pass through the mouth

4) Dull blade – rough machining

Tools needed for the mod:
a) bench grinder

b) file

c) sharpening system (I used sandpaper on glass)

However, with less than 90 minutes put into modifications, I had it up and running as a very usable spokeshave. Here it is making some curves in black cherry. No chatter, smooth finish left behind.

I believe I got what I paid for, I got $5 worth of raw materials. With a bit of sweat equity invested I ended up with a decent spokeshave for someone that does not use a round bottom spokeshave that often. I believe HF flat bottom spokeshave would have the exact same issues, and they would be solved in exactly the same way.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com



21 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1761 days


#1 posted 02-03-2011 06:58 AM

Thanks for posting swirt. I have both versions of the Central Forge spokeshaves. I have been keeping an eye out on ebay, but the prices were getting out of hand. I agree with your observations about the iron. It seems like a pretty hard blade, worth the five dollar investment, but there will definitely be a time investment in flattening and sharpening. I did some of the filing but did not even notice the blunt cap iron compared to the rounded one. I definitely will invest in the process now that I have something so well documented to use.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View swirt's profile

swirt

1945 posts in 1624 days


#2 posted 02-03-2011 07:06 AM

Thanks David, Use the Charlesworth ruler trick to save a lot of time flattening the back of the iron. That easily shaved an hour off my time investment.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View docholladay's profile

docholladay

1286 posts in 1711 days


#3 posted 02-03-2011 11:00 AM

Swirt,

I purchased that exact same spoke shave from HF as well as the flat bottom. Mine do have the exact same problems you describe. I just haven’t take the time to work on them enough to tune them up. Thanks for posting. I now have hope that I can at least make them work respectably.

Thanks,

Doc

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View racerglen's profile

racerglen

2303 posts in 1433 days


#4 posted 02-03-2011 02:09 PM

Nice work, and a good rescue. I’ve had similar issues with the spokeshaves, including a Kunz that had so much paint globbed
into the area where the cap should seat that it couldn’t ! It hung on a peg for several years until I got frustrated, did some reading and looked closer.
What a world of difference with proper seating ! It also required a fair bit of reworking on the underside of the cap as well..

;-)

-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

View steliart's profile

steliart

1807 posts in 1341 days


#5 posted 02-03-2011 03:10 PM

Hey Swirt
Thanks on the post. Very well documented. I may take up with your advice and expertise on spokeshavers someday.
Thanks
Steli

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - http://www.steliart.com --

View Robert Brown's profile

Robert Brown

123 posts in 1344 days


#6 posted 02-03-2011 05:44 PM

Very good – Thanks. Info I need as I bought round and flat HF spokeshaves. I had flatten the bed and sharpened the blade to no avail. I look forward to trying the other fixes.

View swirt's profile

swirt

1945 posts in 1624 days


#7 posted 02-03-2011 10:47 PM

Thanks Racer Glen, I keep meaning to pick up a Kunz (to look at not to own) just to see if they are more like an old Stanley or more like this one from Central Forge (HF). My bet is, just from things I have heard, that they are more like this Harbor Freight, but just cost 5x more.

Steli, don’t go mistaking me for someone that has expertise on spokeshaves. I use them once in a while, but I would consider myself pretty much an amateur with them as well as many other tools. What I am good at is reading everything I can find on a topic and then putting all the pieces together. I should point out that for the roughly 90 minutes I put into getting this spokeshave working, I probably put in 5 hours or more just researching all the possible issues and outcomes. 1/3 of the reason I blog this stuff is so I have it all documented for myself for the next time I have to tune one up. 1/3 is to share it with everyone else. The remaining 1/3 is to pass the info onto my son when he is older. I realize his interest in woodworking may go dormant for his teenage and 20s and may not re-appear until after I’m gone.

Robert, Doc, David and anyone else with one of these, please report back here when you get them working. You may run into other issues than I did.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View racerglen's profile

racerglen

2303 posts in 1433 days


#8 posted 02-04-2011 02:09 AM

Swert, The worst I’ve found in a tool in the “modern” era is a Footprint plane, a variation on the tiny block planes that I picked up in a card/blister pack from Home Dump, er Depot.. While they do have some good stuff, it wasn’t till I tried to use it, and I always make that out of package, one swipe, what have I got, type thing..then go from there.. Hummmm..that wasn’t anywhere near what it should have been, even with a dull factory blade.. started with the Chinese grinding marks on the sole, the misaligned pin that registers the blade followed, the “chip breaker” at 90 degrees, the sole actualy several degrees off that..BUT hey..I’m a tool guy..I can make it WORK ! WRONG! And now any warantee, exchange is void.. Funny how many of these things collect in my hall of shame..(mine AND theirs…)
The spokeshave was a piece of cake in comparison.. Hell, oops, heck, I’ve revitalized some stuff that had been
wrecked by a factory in the early 1900’s.. However; good advice IMHO is to get a good look at what you’re buying first..even if it is in a blister pack.. Canada’s Princess auto and Busy Bee both cary H/F grade stuff, but at least there you can LOOK before you buy..
(except on line Eh.. ;-)

-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1768 days


#9 posted 02-04-2011 02:15 AM

great blog Swirt :-)
thankĀ“s for sharing
I Like your haevy powered grinder :-)

Dennis

View swirt's profile

swirt

1945 posts in 1624 days


#10 posted 02-04-2011 03:52 AM

Glen that is a tough decision sometimes. Do you re-hab it or return it? As you say, if you try to re-hab it and it still doesn’t work, then you can’t return it. I usually avoid these kinds of tools. For $5 I pretty much knew what I was getting. The funny thing is that I had hoped if all else failed I could make use of the cap iron screw since the one on my old Stanley is a makeshift wing-nut. No luck there. The Central Forge is not the same size or thread count. :(

Dennis, my grinder power is good for a while, when it slows down I just give him a cookie and tell him to go faster. ;)

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View mafe's profile

mafe

9509 posts in 1742 days


#11 posted 02-10-2011 05:45 PM

Cool Swirt,
I especially love your 1/8 HP grinder.
I think it’s a wonderful idea to see how we can turn cheap tools into good tools, since I think you have a point.
It’s not always the tool that are wrong, it’s simply the attention to finish that makes it mailfunction.
Thank you,
best thoughts also to the 1/8, tell him thank you,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View swirt's profile

swirt

1945 posts in 1624 days


#12 posted 02-10-2011 06:55 PM

Thanks Mafe, I can’t remember who said it, but it is just a piece of metal that holds another piece of metal. Most things can be made right with a little bit of time and effort.

That hand grinder (the actual grinder, not its power supply) is one of the best things I ever bought. Picked it up at junk shop for $11 and it is a lot of fun to use and I can use it safely with my son. It is not as fast as my electric one, but it is safer on the tools and for my son and I. Plus I can tell him to eat his vegetables so he can get to be a 1/7th HP … he says he wants to be 1/9th …. okay so his understanding of fractions needs a little work. ;)

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View mafe's profile

mafe

9509 posts in 1742 days


#13 posted 02-10-2011 07:28 PM

I smile all over the face.
Keep up that spirit,
best thoughts from my heart,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11168 posts in 1492 days


#14 posted 02-12-2011 04:54 PM

Swirt GREAT TIP, I have been needing to tune mine. There are 3 things you showed the I didn’t even consider as a problem. Oh I do love the 1/8 horse powered motor cover.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View swirt's profile

swirt

1945 posts in 1624 days


#15 posted 02-13-2011 07:07 AM

Thanks Superdav. Hope you can get your spokeshave running better.

Motor cover LOL My wife buys him more tool shirts than she buys me tools. I keep telling her that I won’t outgrow the tools, but he outgrows the shirts in no time flat. :(

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

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